Moses had the burning bush. Jonah had the uncomfortable belly-o-the-whale experience. Angels came to Mary, and Paul sort of freaked out on the way to Damascus. They all got called, and their call stories got preserved for the ages in the biblical canon. But what happened after all that drama? Did Moses ever see another burning bush, scattered across his path like crumbs leading the way toward a lifelong vocation? Did Jonah get such a huge reminder every other time he wandered away from what he was supposed to be doing?
Some people have dramatic stories about how they found their calling - life and death experiences, appearances of angels, revelations in a dream. But some people’s stories are full of gradual accumulation and slow realization. Sometimes we get called in incredibly subtle ways. For BVSers, a year or two of service might just include some instant revelations. But, more likely, it includes a lot of tough, slow work, and perhaps some gradual realization about what we ought to spend our lives doing. Volunteers serve for all sorts of reasons: to be of use in the world, to get away from home, to fulfill a particular goal, to get some practical experience before entering the professional world of work. Hopefully, they leave with a deeper commitment to making service a long-term way of life.
BVS, in partnership with the Volunteers Exploring Vocation project of the Fund for Theological Education, has been engaged for several years in leading volunteers to think intentionally about what their years of service have to do with the rest of their life. What is one’s “call”? What does it mean to think deeply about our “vocation” in the world? What does a year of working in a soup kitchen, advocating for economic justice, working toward peaceful solutions to persistent problems, or caring for the environment have to do with the ways we spend the rest of our lives?
A new part of BVS’s work with vocation is a blog called “BVS Callings” (www.bvscallings.wordpress.com). The blog is about paying attention to the subtleties, recognizing what we might otherwise miss, and figuring out how to follow ever-present leadings toward what we are to be. Updated frequently with videos, poetry, songs, quotations, and questions, BVS Callings invites volunteers (and project partners, alumni, friends, and anyone else interested in thinking deeply about vocation) to spend time considering what their current experiences are teaching them and where they might be called to take the next faithful step. Check it out, and join us in this ongoing project of discernment.
- Dana Cassell, Staff Volunteer for Vocation, Unit #277